Beach Freaks is opening today — online record shop quite unusual, created by three friends Charles Bals, Danny McLewin (Psychemagik) and J Evan Jordan! We talked with the trio about the shop, records, plans, digging stories and many more.
Sasha: Hey guys! Is everyone here?
Charles: Here. Danny is in Guatemala now. I wonder if he will show up..
Sasha: Could we start with an introduction? I don’t know enough about Evan.
Charles: Me neither.
Evan: Well.. I’m from the US, from a village in Wisconsin called Menomonie. After school, I followed a long road and ended up in Sweden. I married a wonderful woman here. Now we got soon 2 kids and soon I am a legit Swede. That kind of background?
Charles: A village?
Evan: It’s sort of a mixture of rednecks, old hippies and immigrants from Laos. I would really doubt any good music came from there. Menomonie is maybe the least balearic place i can think of..
Sasha: And musically?
Evan: I guess I really started getting into the disco scene in 2005/2006. A latecomer, really, but have been moving along at a pretty good pace.
Charles: God, I don’t know if I can do a store with you, Evan. You could have told me before! The new kid on the block.. that’s what we gonna call you from now on.
Evan: Haha, I’ve put in the hours.
Sasha: How did you guys unite?
Evan: Sort of hard to admit, but there is a private Facebook group. Chris Kontos let me in. He has been a really good e-digging partner for a long while..
Charles: Same for me.
Evan: ..but now he runs Kennedy magazine with a few other guys, so I think that commands most of his attention lately.
Sasha: So we are opening some secrets how European underground musical scene works.
Charles: I’m co-admin/host of this group. It’s called Magic Congregation. It was founded by David Tomić about three years ago.
Evan: It used to be really cut-throat.. There would be deadlines where people had to post something or got kicked out. There were definitely some hurt feelings and drama.
Sasha: Have you met each other in real life?
Evan: No, never seen Charles, but Chris told me he exists. Hey look..
Danny: Hi! Yeah, I’m in Guatemala.. we’re here for a festival, then play Mexico City. So we had a week off and chose to stay.
Evan: Welcome to the interview.. What’s it like there?
Danny: Internet is crap here.. There was an insane thunderstorm here last night. I recorded it, have made loads of field recordings with wind chimes and the crazy bird sounds. We are gonna make a sweet track with all these bits. It’s so beautiful here: volcanic serenity.
Charles: Danny and I met through eBay.. what 8 years ago? eBay is a dating platform for record nerds really. I bought an Indian soundtrack from him called “Dashat” and a Sorgini OST.
Danny: Music generally brings good people together. I’ve met a few good guys thru eBay.
Charles: Also some total dicks.
Evan: Mostly clueless sellers.
Danny: Haha yeah, plenty of them.
Sasha: Guys, how do buy records for yourself nowadays?
Charles: During the times we had the Cosmic Dudes Store, I did plenty of digging in 2nd hand shops across Germany and also started looking deeper into Italian stocks online. Most of the stuff we listed during that period wasn’t on Discogs yet and my partner and I didn’t find time to list any of it really. But nowadays I’d say I dig 95% digitally with a bunch of silly simple but effective tricks that help me reach out to virgin sounds.
Danny: I tour a lot so I just hit up the local stores.. Or DJ’s personal collections.
Evan: Living in Sweden isn’t a paradise for what I want. I know there are lots of great collectors here, but I just can’t seem to get excited about Swedish records. I am strictly digital. That doesn’t mean I just camp out on Discogs or eBay. I write to people and send a lot of emails asking about records. I know there is a stigma against e-digging..
Danny: Off to dig a warehouse in Miami this week. The seller deals mainly in Island disco, should be some good scoops there. I guess between us three, we wanna offer a range of unknowns and known but difficult records to catch.
Sasha: Question to all, is it right to say that music you love are from the past? I mean do you feel you’re living in right time?
Evan: Ok! I can’t really say if i’m living in the right time, but.. I am completely out of the loop with new music. It’s certainly not bad. I’m just lost.
Charles: I love the times we live in. If you consider we get to look at the past, select what we like and cut all the other junk out. If you are into music from the 1970s or 80s, our times are actually the best to live in, no? From a collector’s point of view – maybe even better than the period itself. The internet helps us tap into stocks we would never have gotten access to back then. Nowadays everything is at hands. If it exists, then it can be found. Just some stuff takes longer – the stuff we want to offer on our site, basically.
Sasha: Right. Charles, do you find anything in modern music? What is it?
Charles: I think good music is timeless, such as everything else. So much good stuff nowadays, hard to keep track of it. The 1970s just happened to be interesting stylewise, the whole package you know, and helped me personally to focus on something. It was a microcosmos you could entirely vanish in. That to me seems the hardest thing to do nowadays: focus your attention. But yeah I listen to plenty of new stuff too, not just 1970s private outsider kitchen funk 45s.
Evan: Any time spent with new music is time lost looking for old stuff. Re-reading that, it sounds a bit depressing :/
Sasha: It’s honest. And thinking we’re sleeping too much of the time!
Charles: Can’t say I’m sleeping too much.
Sasha: You guys have some crazy digging stories?
Danny: On my first trip to USA when I was 19, I took Greyhounds all over looking for records. The FBI stopped the bus and put a gun at the head of the guy next to me. So they arrested this guy on the bus. Then in Kentucky this guy had just got out of jail and sat next to me.
Evan: Haha, I knew it! My first Greyhound trip.. I stepped onto the bus and thought,”I am in way over my head.”
Danny: I spent 2 weeks painting in Beaufort South Carolina. I sold 4 paintings for $1000, which paid for the trip. Detroit Chicago Ohio Canada. I found warehouses with hundreds of sealed copies of mega rare stuff for $1 each. This was 1991, before they got turned over to the masses. I went to all the shady spots and got amazing hits: Daniel Salinas LP for $1, Deirdre Wilson Tabac for 50c, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sivicas, etc.
Sasha: You should keep that bus to carry all this stuff around!
Charles: Not a big story I got here, but I got crazy lucky one time. I remember emailing with an old man in the south of Italy who’s list of records was handwritten. I had to give him a fax number, then find someone who still has a fax machine. Ended up ordering about 50 records from this guy. I remember double checking the titles with a few collector friends before ordering to see if they had heard of any. And bam! Winner after winner. Found out that Italian records with English titles were a good place to start. Especially when they were misspelled, like “Too Many Night”.
Sasha: What do you guys have in mind for the Beach Freaks store as far as a philosophy? Will you give away the titles of your finds?
Charles: In general, here’s where the disco scene splits. There are people who share and people who keep it all sealed up.
Evan: Everyone likes to talk about this. I see merit in both.. but people that don’t share with the world; they are sharing with at least a few other people; I promise that.
Danny: What musician makes music for it not to be heard? Nonsense.
Charles: Our store will be both. It will help you discover a few “new” titles, that we give away, but it mostly addresses the heavy collectors. BeachFreaksRecords won’t be another discogs, that’s for sure. It’s not meant to be used as a database or roadmap for your own digging.
Sasha: Charles, question for you. Are you doing the design for the Beach Freaks site?
Charles: Yeah but it’s not much, it will be based on a simple layout and that logo that I think we all like. It will be very simple and the way we showcase the records will be unusual in terms of photography. New age I guess.
Sasha: What will the store’s inventory look like? And what will you offer to buyers?
Charles: It will be freaky. There will be unheard, hard to find, few cheapies but mostly just insanely rare material.
Evan: Plus cover up/secret ones.
Danny: I wanna sell some stuff that I truly believe is beautiful music even if it’s well known. Stuff mainly bought to sell.
Charles: We need to keep up to our promises made in a facebook group that already counts 1500 likes, thanks to Danny’s fame I’d say. You can follow us here
Sasha: Guys, the last question: Are you planning some events under BF brand? Parties?
Evan: We talked about putting out a record. At the moment we’ve got a ways to go with the details of the shop. I think it’s a bigger undertaking than I realized, but it’s really exciting. All I can hope for is a beautiful site with some of the nicest records available for the public.
Charles: That’s for sure. And yes there will be parties. We are set to play on the MAGIK FOREST festival near London in September as the next date I know of. So I hope to see you there. Thanks for your interest Sasha — really appreciated. I wish you the best of luck with your platform and I am confident that great things will come out of it!
Evan: Yeah, thanks Sasha!
Sasha: Fun chat, Guys! Thank you all and good luck with Beach Freaks!!!
Images by Charles Bals